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Beatles tribute in Wheeling Jan. 25

January 19, 2012
By J.W. JOHNSON JR. - For The Ticket , Times Leader

Like many fans of The Beatles, Mac Ruffing first heard music by the legends from Liverpool from a family member.

Two, in fact.

"I had two older sisters, so I had no choice, really, because they were constantly listening to them," he said. "After a while, I fell in love with them, too."

Ruffing has turned that love of John, Paul, George and Ringo into a career, playing Paul McCartney in Rain: A Tribute to The Beatles, which will stop in Wheeling on Jan. 25 at the Capitol Theater. Curtain is 7:30 p.m.

Ruffing, a Cleveland native, began playing bass as a teen after seeing a copy of McCartney's Hofner bass in a music store in the city. He had to have the bass, though he did not know how to play the instrument at the time.

"It had nothing to do with sound or music, I just wanted it because it was violin-shaped like Paul's," he said.

Ruffing taught himself to play the bass by listening to Beatles records and picking up McCartney's parts. After playing in several original bands, he began touring with another Beatles tribute band and found himself in Japan where he found an original Hofner bass that called to him just as his copy bass had done in his teens. However, the bass was for left-handed players, like McCartney himself, and Ruffing learned to play right-handed. Still, that didn't stop him from making the purchase.

"I bought it on the spot," he said.

Ruffing spent hours standing in front of a full-length mirror learning to play the instrument backwards. He then joined "Rain," playing the part of McCartney and learning to speak and sing in the Beatle's voice.

"It is still a work in progress, and I need to refresh myself every now and then," he said. "But once you get into it, you kind of slip into that groove."

That groove spans six different eras during the course of the more than two-hour "Rain" show, from the black suits and mop-tops of the early 1960s to the extravagance and colors of the Sgt. Peppers era to the final incarnation of the band during the "Let It Be" era. The show features songs from every album, as well as an acoustic set during which Ruffing and his bandmates are able to call audibles and play different songs every night.

In addition to the music and visuals of the band, Ruffing said large video screens both before and during the show give the audience a glimpse into what The Beatles mean in a historical perspective.

"They arrived in America just after John F. Kennedy was assassinated, which was a really interesting time in this country," he said.

Ruffing said the show is for all ages, and it is not uncommon to see three generations of family members at the show, all sharing and enjoying the music.

"A lot of the people at the shows weren't even born when The Beatles were around, which says something about the music," he said.

Tickets are still available at the Wesbanco Arena box office or at



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